Tomorrow people all over the country will be gathering around the table with loved ones, stuffing themselves with tasty food, and expressing “attitudes of gratitude.”
Thanksgiving is so much more than turkey or a “Be Thankful” graphic tee. Don’t get me wrong, I love gathering with family, watching the parade, and eating way too many mashed potatoes, but really the day is a great opportunity to tell the Creator of all, The King, thanks. (What a small word for all He has done!) Everyone who has put their trust in Him should give Him thanks for loving us, rescuing us, forgiving us, and adopting us as His beloved children. There are so many good reasons to celebrate Thanksgiving, but the foundational reason to wake up tomorrow morning with thankful, joy-filled hearts is to give God glory.
I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy. (Psalm 16:8-11)
But if that is the case, why do we have such a hard time being thankful and truly worshiping God all the other days of the year? I think the best explanation is that we get distracted and forget. Instead of running in a straight path with our eyes on the King, we start running all zig-zag like and end up focusing on other things. We forget He is in control, so we try to be in control. We forget He loves us and is pleased with us, so we go about trying to prove ourselves to the people around us. We forget that being near Him is sweeter than any material thing, so we try to buy, drink, or eat our way into momentary happiness. We forget He is a mighty warrior, so we become fearful and anxious. We forget He is generous and gentle with us, so we complain and grumble.
BUT GOD. Oh how I love when Scripture starts with those two words! Even when our lives look like a mess, He still has us! When we find our hearts struggling to worship and our minds constantly distracted, we need to say, “BUT GOD.” He is greater than all pain, bigger than any circumstance, and is King over all. He is a perfect Father that delights in helping and being near His people. What good news!
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together in Christ – by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4)
The true antidote to grumbling or hopelessness, no matter the circumstance, is to put our eyes back on Jesus and worship. He is our hope. Tomorrow. The next day. Allllll the days after that! Worship happens on Sunday morning and all the moments in between. Praise Him while you unload the groceries because He is a great provider. Give thanks to Him while you wash the dishes because He sees us when no one else does. Worship Him when you change diapers because He gives us so much more than we deserve. Worship Him while you grade papers or check over homework because He gives us clear minds. Praise Him when you are all by yourself because not only does He adopt us, He also promises never to leave or forsake us. Worship Him when you are exhausted, disappointed, and sick because He has promised to come again to make everything right.
So, my encouragement to all of us (myself included!) is to let tomorrow be the start of something new. Don’t let it be the same old turkey day. Let us merge our bodies with what our souls already know, toward a regular practice of being thankful to God with great joy. Then, get up the next morning and do the same. Ask Him for help and hold fast to the truth that He hears every prayer. Choose to remember His faithfulness and be truly satisfied in His goodness.
“I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:13-14)
But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24)